College students are running up an alarmingly large amount of credit card debt these days and it is only increasing with the passage of time. The average undergraduate student carries thousands in credit card debt and by the time they graduate from college, they are beginning their new lives in the “real world” with debt that they can’t pay.
Students figure: I’ll live like I want to now and then when I get a job it will be easy to pay it back. This is often not the case. Lower-than-expected salaries, plus higher-than-expected living expenses and hefty student loan payments, make handling credit card debt all the more difficult for students and recent grads.
And the worse part about college students having so much credit card debt is that it takes so long to pay it off. Even if they are able to make the minimum payments, by sticking to minimum payments it would take a student more than 12 years and $1,115 in interest to pay off a $1,000 bill on a card with an 18 percent annual rate. If students fall behind in their payments, they get slammed with high late fees. And it’s easy for things to get out of hand.
Of course, there are two sides to this story. Most college students start out with little and even no credit, so having a credit card seems like a good idea so they can start building a credit history in anticipation of owning a new or better car and even, someday their own home. Except for if they haven’t been warned of the dangers of using credit cards or are especially naive, this could be a bad move.
Credit card debt for college students affects many, many aspects of their college lives. They can’t pay their bills regularly and find themselves short of cash. Plus, it can affect their ability to secure a student loan which can be crucial with ever-rising tuition rates. And parents should beware of putting their college student on their own credit cars as an authorized user as the same debt can pile up under the parents’ names and cause some serious credit problems.
Armed with the right information, many students are able to establish credit and steer clear of card debt. Even though college students do carry credit card debt, 54 percent of college students pay off their credit card balances every month. Most tend to be responsible and use the card wisely.
However, some of them don’t and they’re getting into trouble. If a person makes it through 18 years of life without any financial wherewithal, it’s very difficult to change their behavior and that’s why it’s so important that parents speak to their children about money management. To keep a college student out of credit card debt, the key is teaching students money management skills before handing them a credit card.